The Voice of the Conservative Movement at Wabash College

How Not to Talk about Illegal Immigration

Republican United States Senate candidate Richard Behney has been working on his stock answer to the question of illegal immigration.

First, in the Warsaw Senate debate, he implied, but stopped short of actually saying, that he would physically harm a metaphorical intruder “climbing through the back window” of his home instead of using the “front door.”

You know, there’s two facts about our country. One is, we are a nation of immigrants. That’s what makes us great. All different races, colors, cultures. We’re also a Republic of laws. And we live by the law. You know, if you come to my house, and the front light is on — the porch light’s on — you’re welcome. Come knock on the front door, open up, come on in. If I catch you climbing through the back window, in my house, I’m likely to, uh…we don’t need another YouTube moment but…you know, I don’t know what’s going on. You know, and while you’re in my house, I ask that you live by my house rules. And I would like that you speak English, thank you very much.

He then decided not to be so wishy-washy in the Huntington debate, saying that the metaphorical intruder is “likely to get shot,” and implying that said intruder wants to harm children.

I’m going to treat it like my house, folks. You know… you’re welcome to come in my front door anytime…but if I find you climbing in the back window, you’re likely to get shot. And if you hurt one of my kids, I am going to shoot you. And by the way, when you’re in my house, I expect you to obey the house rules and speak English.

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This goes too far on a number of levels. Regardless of where you stand on the immigration debate, the fact remains that there are an estimated eleven to twenty million illegal immigrants living among us today. They’re not sneaking in the windows. They’re already here. They’re members of our communities. Most of them came here seeking employment. Most of them don’t want to hurt your children — they’re too busy taking care of their own. Most of them worship the same God we do. All of them were created in the image of that God. All of them deserve a certain level of respect by simple virtue of that fact.

If you want to deport them, fine. If you want them to have a path to citizenship, fine. We can have a debate about that. But please, don’t even joke about shooting them. I know that Mr. Behney has been a little trigger happy in the past, but I hope that he begins to tame his rhetoric soon. Even as a metaphor and a joke, this goes too far. We’re talking about human beings here.

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C. Austin Rovenstine '10

About C. Austin Rovenstine '10

Austin is a history major and political science minor from Atwood, Indiana. During his time at Wabash, he was president of the Wabash Conservative Union and Editor-in-Chief of The Phoenix.

Very nice job, Austin. Really. Well done.

C Austin (cant he just use Austin–what is he a member of Royalty?)

Behney’s point was that if illegal immigrants want to be here legally, they need to follow the rules and process to become citizens. If they are going to come across the boarders illegally, they must pay the consequences.

Behney will most likely shoot someone unlawfully entering his home; but he does NOT want any illegal alien shot. Beheny is a kind, but stern christian. He uses this dramatic analogy to make a point. It is not meant to be taken literally in the context of shooting illegal aliens.

I trust C Austin is a good kid, but he needs to do more homework of good conservative candidates before he starts slinging mud. Maybe C Austin should stick to editorials about the local band that played last night before delving into U.S. senate races.

C. Austin Rovenstine '10 by C. Austin Rovenstine '10 posted April 9th, 2010 at 2:35 pm

You misread what I have to say. I am not arguing that Mr. Behney is literally advocating the shooting of immigrants — in fact, I refer to his comments several times as a “metaphor.” I am arguing that in using that metaphor, Mr. Behney crosses the line.

There is such a thing as a bad metaphor. There are a hundred different ways to make a point about immigrants having to follow the rules without using the reckless and irresponsible language of shooting — or without ascribing evil intent with the line about the intruders harming his children. Such rhetoric can only serve to devalue the lives and inherent dignity of a group of people who, for better or worse, live among us today.

All of us have to watch what we say — that is especially true of public figures.

Austin: That’s one of the symptoms of the problem addressed by the TEA Party folks: We’re tired of being Politically Correct.

We’re tired of being told we’re racists, homophobes, bigots, etc – when we don’t toe the line and only use “nice” vernacular approved by the liberal loonies.

We are in a literal fight for the life or death of our republic (see… actual application of a similar metaphor). There is no more time to be “nice”.

As Dalton says in Roadhouse – be nice until I tell you it’s time to not be nice (I know I didn’t get the quote quite right… just go with it!) – Well, we are past the time for “nice” – the media is working directly against conservatives, libertarians, TEA Partiers, 9.12ers, etc. The left hates us and uses Alynski methodology against us on a daily basis.

It’s time to change the rules, and work to save our Constitution and our Republic. It’s time to stop worrying about “being nice.”

Frankly, I like the plain talk of many of the candidates, Behney included, who are coming out of the TEA Party. When it comes to saving our Republic – I’ll take plain talk instead of “polite” talk any day.

Ok, the rhetoric is not politically correct, but the lack
of enforcement of immigration has been going on for many, many years. Many good, hardworking immigrates are here illegally. They should not be. Many criminal immigrates are here as well. They have killed one man in Arizonia recently. People are frightened and are tired of the government putting political correctness above the safety of the
American people. I support Richard Behney. What you see, is what you get which is
far more than I can say for the majority of candidates.

C. Austin Rovenstine '10 by C. Austin Rovenstine '10 posted April 12th, 2010 at 7:32 am

I wonder if you all applauded when President Obama declared, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” That statement was, after all, politically incorrect — but political incorrectness is not a good thing in and of itself. When it goes to the extent of implying harm to your fellow human beings, it is a bad thing — especially from a public figure like a president or a senatorial candidate whose words are closely followed.

I don’t think that abandoning all niceness is the best way to save our country. Americans are upset right now, but they are also decent people — and the latest Republican primary poll which puts Mr. Behney at 3 percent gives us a sense of what they think about his campaigning style. Defeating the Obama agenda will require victory at the ballot box. Far from saving our Republic, Mr. Behney’s reckless rhetoric would put us in danger of ceding it over to the Democrats for another term.

We are indeed a country of immigrants, but we are a country of law abiding LEGAL immigrants. People who enter this country illegally are not law abiding immigrants, they are criminals and need to be treated like they have broken the law, not coddled and allowed to impose a financial burden on our country’s resources.

I’m with Sheriff Joe and Behney on this one. If they’re breaking in through the back window, I WILL shoot first and ask questions later.

Luke Blakeslee '11 by Luke Blakeslee '11 posted April 28th, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Shoot first and ask questions later—and witness Tea Party conservatism going nowhere. This is not a matter of political correctness; no, it’s of political ignorance. For verily, my friend, with such a philosophy, Behney’s type of conservatism will have no public bearing after the votes are counted.
Arguing for stricter enforcement of illegal immigration laws is important, but any halfway cultured person who hears this kind of rhetoric aimed at every one of his/her Hispanic family members, friends, neighbors, employees, co-workers and church members, etc (Behney is, remember, shooting first and asking questions later), will take up the slogan and in turn vote first and ask questions later. Any merit in the Tea Party philosophy, which I do believe exists, won’t even make it to the booth.
Whether the goal of the Tea Party is to change–even affect–Congress through organized public outrage manifested in votes, or simply to stir up public outrage under a common banner built on, say, constitutionally limited Government, free markets and fiscal responsibility, the Party and its most vociferous public speakers like Behney must address a vital truth still remaining in our now fully cultured country (which I feel C. Austin ought to have stressed further): that is, no populous uprising, no matter how legitimate, stigmatized by politically ignorant and violent rhetoric–even if metaphorically violent–will ever be more than hot air gathered and spent in vain.
According to his recent poll performance, the public sees through Behney. I only hope now that the public will see how poorly he represents the greater Tea Party and conservative thought in general, that it might quickly recover from its Richard Behney-damaged image.

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